The mind is what the brain does but the brain starts with information from the senses. There is no such thing as innate ideas in a mind because ideas begin with thought and thought needs language. The brain contains a set of responses that are sort of built in but the responses must be triggered by the senses.

So the mind begins with perceptions, the responses of the senses to external stimuli. The stimuli are not useful to sentience but they can trigger reactions. The brains of lower animals work in that fashion but lower animals because they lack a language, cannot do higher tasks, i.e., tasks that require decisions and conclusions. Decisions are the results of choices. Humans are all about choices. How does a human make correct choices?

A mind begins with a blank slate. The brain is collecting data from birth. The collection is not thought but it can serve as the beginnings of thought which requires perceptions. How does the brain begin to think?

Thought comes from memory and memory requires language to access it. Perceptions – Words – Thoughts. How does the mind come to correct conclusions?

Humans have Free Will. Free Will presents choices to the mind. Perceptions do not access Free Will. Free Will is innate. The abilities that come before Free Will require information from the senses; the collection of similar data which comes from memories, and language to know a choice is available. Choice is almost an innate ability. Almost because if a human brain is damaged the ability to choose may not occur. If the senses are damaged the data from them may be insufficient to create sufficient memories and even to stop the learned ability to use a language.

The mere ability to use a language, as great an ability as it is, is still insufficient to think and the ability to think is not the ability to make the right decisions. If the ability to access and use free will is damaged the mind will not provide the possibility of choice. The ability to make the right choice depends on many things in addition to perception / memory / language / and the ability to choose. All that is required for a mind to form.

The mere formation of a mind however, as important and complicated as it is, needs guidance to make correct decisions. We are talking here about thinking, not of decisions about what tastes good and water stops thirst. Three questions may help identify the situation for each individual mind. Where am I? How do I know it and What should I do? these are the questions posed by Ayn rand in her brilliant address to the graduating class at West Point.

Those answers are the province of philosophy. Where am I? is Metaphysical It pertains to a knowledge of the largest dimensions of existence itself.

How do I know it refers to the way the mind works. That’s Epistemology. What should I do refers to Ethics, a third branch of philosophy.

There are many wrong philosophies. There are philosophies that get some things right. A student of philosophy will be taught and will learn about the types and contents on the various philosophies. A well formed mind educated at a university most likely will not be taught the correct philosophy. A wrong education can destroy a well formed mind. A great education will increase the possibility of a well formed mind to come to correct conclusions.  The universities are over 95% staffed by Liberal professors. The graduates of those universities will begin their adult lives as Liberals. Unfortunately Liberals promote Liberal Ideas.

Liberalism has far too many faults to recommend it as the basis of a well educated mind. Conservatives cannot educate enough Conservative students and it’s a good thing because Conservatism is mostly religion based these days and religion is never a way to a well educated mind because it’s so narrow a field and because it’s so full of contradictions.

A capable adult will flourish best with a well formed mind and a well educated mind but the chances of both happening at a university is almost zero. Ayn Rand had that on her mind when she addressed the graduating class a West Point. this is not a plot spoiler so the right philosophy won’t be revealed. To do that read Ayn Rand’s address. West Point though so highly of it that they added it to the required curriculum. 

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